Three days ago I read a piece in The Intercept about Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer in Joe Biden’s office, coming forward with a really disturbing story of sexual abuse in the workplace. If you have not already read Ed’s post today, go and do that. He perfectly goes through the story, explaining it from start to the present time.
What caught my attention in The Intercept piece is the fact that the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund will not come to Reade’s aid by providing legal assistance and support. Tara Reade reached out to them and at first, she received some encouragement that legal help would come from that group. She knew she would face a strong backlash, especially since Biden is the all but official Democrat presidential nominee.
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund was the recipient of an outpouring of donations over the past two-plus years, and is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. It was launched in December 2017 and was the most successful GoFundMe in the site’s history, raising more than $24 million. Among the accusers backed so far by Time’s Up are some of those assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, as well scores of others with allegations against executives in male-dominated industries. The group has committed more than $10 million toward funding cases.
So, they are flush with donations and have some experience with help others in Reade’s position. Initially, she was encouraged by the response of the program director at NWLC when she spoke with her in January. The woman didn’t have a problem that Tara was a Sanders supporter or that she didn’t tell her whole story publicly in the past. (That “publicly” part is important. I’ll get to that later.) The program director told Tara she would send a note along to the attorneys, including how critics responded to her on social media when she did come forward. There is even reference made to Reade’s fondness of the Russian people. I know, it gets weird. She has Russian friends and is writing a novel set in Russia. She just wanted help pushing back against the Twitter mob.
The program director shared with Reade the note she planned to forward to attorneys, which read, in part:
She began publicly sharing the harassment she experienced in April 2019 but was attacked … online including by Richard Painter (Univ. of MN law professor who worked in the Obama administration) and journalist Edward-Isaac Dovere for being a Russian operative. There is more to the story of the harassment that she did not feel safe sharing at that time. She is looking for support in sharing her story and guidance on any possible legal action she may be able to take against online harassers. [Editor’s note: Painter served in the Bush, not Obama, administration, and ran for Senate in 2018 as a Democrat.]
The references to Dovere, a reporter with The Atlantic, and Painter stem from their Twitter posts that highlighted favorable comments Reade had made about Putin in a now-deleted post on Medium. “What if I told you that everything you learned about Russia was wrong?” she had written in one 2018 post. “President Putin scares the power elite in America because he is a compassionate, caring, visionary leader. … To President Putin, I say keep your eyes to the beautiful future and maybe, just maybe America will come to see Russia as I do, with eyes of love. To all my Russian friends, happy holiday and Happy New Year.”
Well, that hope for help didn’t last long. Reade was told in February that no help would be coming after all. Director Sharyn Tejani side steps the case by claiming that Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is set up as a 501(c)3 nonprofit housed within the National Women’s Law Center. As it is set up, it is “restricted in how it can spend its funds, including restrictions that pertain to candidates running for election.”
“Our decision on whether or not to provide certain types of support to an individual should not be interpreted as our validation or doubt of the truthfulness of the person’s statements. Regardless, our support of workers who come forward regarding workplace sexual harassment remains unwavering.”
Unwavering, just not helpful, right? So, we’ll remember that should any claims be launched against President Trump, like in the 2016 campaign, won’t we? Also, what about the open support for Christine Blasey Ford during the Kavanaugh nomination battle by the #MeToo movement, including an open letter published in the NYT, whose “fiscal sponsor”, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), is also a 501(c)(3)? Is that support apples and oranges or does that support fall under the same perimeters?
Oh yeah, there is also this little tidbit – Anita Dunn is in the mix here. Remember, Dunn was brought in to help rescue Biden’s flailing campaign not too long ago.
The public relations firm that works on behalf of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund is SKDKnickerbocker, whose managing director, Anita Dunn, is the top adviser to Biden’s presidential campaign. A spokesperson for Biden declined to comment. The SKDK spokesperson assigned to Time’s Up referred questions back to the NWLC.
Anyway, I’m not the only one thinking that excuse for refusal to help Tara Reade is malarkey. Ellen Aprill, a professor of tax law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says that the Time’s Up analysis is “too conservative” and it would not risk its tax-exempt status by taking on the case. It is not surprising that there are two sides to an interpretation of a legal argument.
“As a legal matter, if the group is clear regarding the criteria used as to whom it is taking to court, show that these are long-established neutral criteria, and they are being applied to individuals completely independent of their running for office, it would not be a violation of tax law. Groups are allowed to continue to do what they have always done,” she said.
Here’s where I am on this story – I took her account with a large grain of salt when I first read this article. I’ve mulled it over for three days now and then I read an update posted to the story on Thursday. One sticking point for me was whether or not Tara Reade had any proof of telling the story to anyone else when it happened, over twenty years ago. Well, she does. She told both her mother and her brother and also a friend who worked for Sen. Kennedy at the time. Her mother has since passed away but her brother and her friend can vouch for her. Her brother admits he didn’t offer much support to her back then, but does clearly remember the story.
Reade has given an interview with podcast host Katie Halper, describing her time in Biden’s office, and what she described as a sexual assault in 1993. At the time, she told her mother, brother, and a friend who worked in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office about the incident. Her mother has since passed away, but both her friend and brother told The Intercept they recalled hearing about it from her at the time. Reade’s friend, who asked to remain anonymous so as not to be part of the public blowback, said she discouraged Reade from coming forward at all, concerned that she would be attacked and would never get the apology she was hoping for. Reade and her brother, Collin Moulton, both said that their mother urged her to call the police, but her brother urged her to move on instead. “Woefully, I did not encourage her to follow up,” he said. “I wasn’t one of her better advocates. I said let it go, move on, guys are idiots.” (Moulton, who lives in Georgia, said he voted for Gary Johnson in 2016 and has no intention to vote for either Biden or Donald Trump.)
We know Biden’s history as a grabby kind of man, who invades personal space and laughs it all off. I see no reason at this point to not believe Tara Reade. The media will ignore the story because Biden is their guy. The double standard that guides reporting on Republicans versus Democrats will be present. She should get her day to tell her story to voters. Where are all the liberal feminists now? Where is Alyssa Milano?
I’ll end with this little bit of oddness from Biden. Is it a coincidence that he includes a reference to sleeping with his wife? I don’t believe in coincidences, y’all.
Probably not the best day to have said this … https://t.co/pNxMKOSBCf
— TeriChristoph (@TeriChristoph) March 27, 2020